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Architecture Billings Index Inches Positive; West Region Jumps 5+ Points

By Eric Jay Toll for The Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Just barely into positive territory on the national design scene, the AIA Architecture Billing Index climbed for the first time in five months. The national index, 50.2 in August was up from 48.7 in July, but lower than the 51.4 recorded in August 2011. Any number above 50 indicates an increase in billings.

The west region, including Arizona, showed the largest month-over-month increases and topped the scale compared to last August. The west jumped to 51.2 from 45.3 in July and is up from 47.4 a year ago. The south, 52.2, is down a half point from July, but up from 47.4 in 2011.

With a 9 to 12 month lag from design to construction, the Index is a leading indicator towards a 2013 construction uptick. The project inquiry index—a measure of queries and open solicitations—moved up from 56.3 to 57.2 in August; it was 56.9 in 2011.

“Until the economy is on firmer ground, there aren’t likely to be strong increases in demand for design services,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “In the meantime, we can expect to see design activity alternate between modest growth and modest decline.”

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the index and inquiries are monthly numbers.

The AIA Architecture Billing Index is a survey collecting data from 600 design firms across the United States. The national index and inquiry index data are based on the monthly data collected and seasonally adjusted. The regional data reflects a three month, seasonally-adjusted moving average.

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